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Full text of "The Battle of the frogs, at Windham, 1758 : with various accounts and three of the most popular ballads on the subject"

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(lass F \ f- <\ 



THE 



§attlc of ttjc frogs, 



AT 



WINDHAM/ 1758, 



WITH VARIOUS ACCOUNTS 



AND 



THREE OF THE MOST POPULAR BALLADS OX THE SUBJECT, 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION 




BY WILLIAM L. WEAVER. 




i 




PUBLISHED BY 




J A M E S W ALDEN, 




WILLIMANTIC, CONN. 




1857. 





/ 



THE 



attU of tljt frogs, 



AT 4 & 3 



WINDHAM, 1758, 

WITH VARIOUS ACCOUNTS 



AND 



THREE OF THE MOST POPULAR BALLADS ON THE SUBJECT, 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION 

BY WILLIAM L. WEAVER. 



published by 
J^lMES walden 

WILLIMANTIC, CONN. 
1857. 



0745 



V \ 



INTRODUCTION, 



CELEBRITY OF THE AFFAIR. 

The town of Windham has been rendered famous for all 
time, by a memorable event which occurred within its borders 
about a hundred years ago, when the inhabitants were greatly 
alarmed and frightened by some unusual demonstration among 
the bull-frogs. 

This really singular affair has obtained a wide-spread noto- 
riety, and the story of the Windham Frogs is well known all 
over the country. Indeed, the fame of it has been so extended, 
that a citizen of the town can hardly go so far from home, but 
he will hear something about bull-frogs if his place of nativity 
is known. 

This occurrence has been celebrated in song, and sung in 
rhyme and doggerel of all kinds of measure and metre ; it has 
found a place in grave history ; the most exaggerated accounts 
have obtained credence in some quarters ; various traditions 
and anecdotes in relation to it, have been remembered with 
remarkable tenacity, while it has afforded an inexhaustible 
theme for the indulgence of wit and pleasantry at the expense 
of the inhabitants of the town. 

We may presume the actors in the scene did not wish to 
hear much about it, nor always relish the jokes and jibes to 
which they were subject, but their descendents have received 
the ridicule which has been showered upon them from all 
quarters, with great good nature. They have laughed with 
those that laughed at the ludicrous aspects of the affair, and 
have not been disposed to get angry with those who were in- 
clined to " poke fun" at them on this account. In fact, they 
have accepted the bull-frog as a device, have stamped his 



image on their bank-bills, and were it in the days of chivalry, 
their heraldic devices and coats of arms would blazon with 
bull-frogs. 

WINDHAM AND THE FROG POND. 

Before noticing* the different accounts and traditions relat- 
ing to the affair, or attempting any explanation of it, a few 
facts will render the subject more intelligible to those un- 
acquainted with the geography and topography of the town. 

Windham is situated in the eastern part of Connecticut, 
about thirty miles from Hartford, and was at the time of the 
occurrence, (1758,) and for many years subsequent, the most 
important town in that section of the State. It had been set- 
tled about sixty years and contained a thousand or more inhab- 
itants. 

The village of Windham is located on a hill or considerable 
elevation, which rises to its highest point a short distance east 
of the public green, called " Swift Hill," because the residence 
of the celebrated Judge Swift was situated on it. 

From the summit of this hill, the ground gradually descends 
eastward to the Frog Pond, which is just a mile from Wind- 
ham village on the Scotland road. The intervention of this 
hill, may in a measure explain the confusion of noises heard 
at the time of the alarm, which appeared to many to be in 
the air. The Frog Pond, or rather pond of frogs, at the time 
of the occurrence, was a moderate sized mill-pond, caused by 
damming a small stream. The pond is somewhat larger now 
than formerly, caused by raising the dam, and when full, cov- 
ers a surface of about twenty acres. This pond was of a 
marshy kind, well adapted to the taste of frogs, and must at 
the time, have contained a large number, of all sorts and sizes, 
with excellent voices. It is not necessary, however, to sup- 
pose it contained as many as Peters, in his History of Con- 
necticut, would have us believe ; for, at a moderate estimate, 
his account would give more than five millions ; but there were 
enough to make a great deal of "noise and confusion" when 
they became excited. There are not probably as many frogs 
in the pond now as formerly, yet there are a "few left." A 



friend, sometime since, fishing in its waters, had a powerful 
bite, when he "hauled in" and found he had caught a big 
bull-frog. 

THE ALAEM OF THE TOWN. 

It was, according to most accounts, in the month of June or 
July, 1758, on a dark, foggy night, the wind easterly, with an 
atmosphere favorable to the transmission of sound, that the 
event happened. It was past the midnight hour, and the in- 
habitants were buried in profound sleep, when the outcry 
commenced. There were heard shouts and cries, and such a 
variety of mingled sounds, which seemed to fill the heavens, 
that soon roused the people from their slumbers and thor- 
oughly alarmed the town. 

To the excited imaginations of the suddenly awakened and 

startled inhabitants, it is not strange that some thought the 

day of judgment was at hand, while others supposed that an 

army of French and Indians was advancing to attack the town. 

"We are not about to draw upon the imagination, to depict 

the scenes that then and there transpired, as others have done, 

our only object being to give such facts and incidents, as will 

enable the reader to arrive at a correct solution of the affair. 

But the alarm and turn out of the whole town at the dead 

hours of night, the darkness and confusion in consequence, the 

cries and screams of the terror-stricken women and children, 

3 running hither and thither of the half-naked inhabitants, 

3 continuance of the strange and perfectly unaccountable 

ises, must, without any exaggeration, have produced a scene, 

common phrase, " more easily imagined than described." 

It should be remembered, that it was then comparatively a 

new country, and during the time of the French and Indian 

war that resulted in the conquest of Canada. Col. Dyer* had 

* Col. Eliphalet Dyer, the same for whom the frogs called so loudly, was one 
of the most eminent men in the town and State. He was agent for the Colony to 
England, member of the first and second Congress, Chief Justice of the State, &c. 
It is related of him, that on one occasion Ins arrival in the city to attend Con- 
gress was greeted with shouts of laughter ; when alighting, lie discovered the cause 
of merriment to be a monstrous bull-frog, dangling from the hinder part of his 
carriage, appended probably by some wag on his route. 



6 

just raised a regiment to join the expedition against Crown 
Point, and many of the brave men of the town belonged to it, 
and were at this time on the banks of Lake George, under the 
heroic Putnam, battling with their savage foes. 

Many incidents of the fright are related, and the names of 
some of the prominent men of the town have been immor- 
talized by this affair, but we do not choose to give any, except 
such as are brought out in the following accounts and ballads, 
and those are probably pure fictions, or greatly exaggerated. 

Towards morning, the sounds began to die away, and order 
and quiet was restored to this unusually peaceful town.. To 
those who took the trouble to go to the pond — and we presume 
many did go next day — the scene of the disturbance was man- 
ifest. Dead frogs by hundreds, some say thousands, were lying 
on the shores of the pond or floating on its surface, either 
killed in battle, or by some dire catastrophe. The mortifica- 
tion and chagrin of the citizens, when the facts became known, 
may well l>e imagined, and we presume they never heard the 
last of it. To be frightened half out of their senses by a parcel 
of contemptible bull-frogs, was too ludicrous an affair not to 
make them the butt of ridicule ever afterwards. 

ACCOUNT OF PETERS. 

That the people of Windham were aroused from their mid- 
night slumbers ; that the town was thoroughly alarmed and 
many terribly frightened ; that there was great confusion and 
consternation, caused by some extraordinary tumult among 
the frogs, as has been stated, all this is undoubtedly true ; but 
the occasion of this unusual outcry in frogdom, the why and 
how of it are not so clear, there being many versions and 
explanations of the affair. 

The account of Peters, given in the following pages, in his 
veracious History of Connecticut, which has probably been 
more widely published than any other, is that the frogs finding 
their pond becoming dry, left it in a body for the river, and 
were so numerous that, in his own language, " They filled a 
road forty yards wide four miles in length" and the noise 
and clamor made by them in passing through the town at 
midnight, caused the alarm. This account has obtained ex- 



tensive belief, especially abroad, and the first ballad following, 
is founded upon it. The absurdity and evident exaggeration 
of this statement, are truly laughable, and were it not that his 
narration has been, and still is considered by many, a veritable 
history of the affair, it would be unworthy a moment's notice. 
Mr. Peters resided at Hebron, Conn., only about a dozen miles 
from Windham, soon after the occurrence ; he had evidently 
been in the town and describes its appearance ; he might then 
have easily obtained the facts ; his account is apparently can- 
did, and were there nothing else incorrect or untrue in his 
book, his statements, however wonderful, would seem to be 
founded on fact. 

But his whole book is most grossly and unpardonably inac- 
curate and reckless in its statements, besides its downright 
falsehoods. As a specimen or two of his incorrectness, he says, 
the Frog Pond is five miles from Windham, whereas it is only 
one; that it is three miles square, when it never was a fourth 
of a mile in extent. 

From this and other exaggerated statements with which his 
book abounds, it is plain that no reliance whatever can be 
placed on his account, clergyman though he was, unless sus- 
tained by other testimony, and his object probably was to 
make out a large story to add to the attractions of his book. 

OTHER ACCOUNTS. 

'here are, however, some traditions that the frogs left 
pond and started towards the town and were met by the 
med men," and a battle, or rather a massacre did take 
:e, when the frogs were slaughtered without mercy by the 
enraged inhabitants, whose slumbers had been so much dis- 
turbed. But these accounts seem to be all founded on the 
statement of Peters, or ballads based on the same. 

The other and more favorite theory is, that there was 
simply and literally a "battle of the frogs," or a fight among 
themselves, caused by a short supply of water, owing to a 
severe drought which had prevailed. This view of the matter 
is fully set forth, suitably embellished, in the account given in 
the following pages, and first published as a preface to the 



8 

song, entitled " Lawyers and Bull-frogs." It is probably more 
generally believed by the present inhabitants of- the town than 
any other, as giving the most rational explanation of the affair ; 
yet it is not by any means established, as we shall see. 

TKADITIONS IN THE FOLLETT FAMILY. 

Supposing the facts and particulars would be better known, 
and the traditions more reliable by those living in the imme- 
diate vicinity of the pond, we have taken some pains to learn 
the views of those on the spot, as obtained from their fathers, 
living at the time of the occurrence. 

The Frog Pond was then owned by a Follett family, and the 
premises have been in possession of their descendants ever since. 
The privilege is now owned by Abner Follett, Esq., who has 
very kindly given the writer of this article his views of the 
affair, founded on traditions preserved in the family. He says 
that his father, though young, remembered the occurrence, 
was on the ground at the time, and he has often heard him 
relate it. 

These traditions are briefly as follows : The event occurred 
in the month of June, though whether O. S. or N. S., Mr. 
Follett does not know. The pond was not dry, nor had there 
been any drought, as is so generally believed ; there was plenty 
of water at the time in the pond, it being supplied by a never 
failing stream. The frogs did not leave the pond, as many 
now suppose, and there was no evidence of fighting, though 
many dead frogs were found about the pond next morning, 
yet without any visible wounds. The outcry was loud and 
very extraordinary, the noises seemed to fill the heavens, and 
are described as thunderlike. Some near by declared that 
they could feel their beds vibrate under them, yet knowing 
from whence the sounds came, and that they were made by 
the frogs, they were not frightened, as were the inhabitants 
of the village. The real cause of the outcry is unknown. 
Various opinions were entertained at the time ; some attrib- 
uted it to disease, as so many dead frogs were found on the 
shores of the pond. 

Such is the substance of Mr. Follett's statement, and com- 
ing so direct, and from such a source, is entitled to the greatest 



weight. • To those who know Mr. F., it is unnecessary to say 
that nothing exaggerated or savoring of romance would be 
stated or entertained by him. No man Jias had better oppor- 
tunities to learn the facts ; no one, we think would be more 
likely to discard all fiction, and if these statements can not be 
credited, we can place no reliance on any traditions relating to 
the affair. 

CAUSE OF THE OUTCRY. 

From the lapse of time since the occurrence, the few relia- 
ble facts preserved, and the conflicting accounts, it is not so 
easy to decide positively, as to the cause of the disturbance. 

It occurred when newspapers were scarce, and no account, 
so far as we can learn, was published at the time. It is very 
certain that the sounds heard were not the ordinary croakings 
of the frogs, for their usual notes could hardly be heard a 
mile, under favorable circumstances ; besides, their common 
sounds would not have caused alarm, or attracted any particu- 
lar attention. It must have been something unusual and 
very extraordinary to have produced such an excitement. 

The statement of Peters, and others, that the frogs left the 
pond, is rejected, not only from its inherent improbability, but 
as not warranted by the circumstances, or sustained by the 
most reliable traditions. 

The other and more favorite theory is, as has been stated, 
that owing to a severe drought, there was a short supply of 
water, and that the frogs fought among themselves for the 
enjoyment of what remained. 

The writer, with many others, has believed that the frogs 
did have a fight, that they " fought like dogs," and that many 
did not live to fight another day. 

This view would certainly seem to be inconsistent, or at least 
not sustained, by the account of Mr. Follett. If the occur- 
rence was in June, it is not probable that there was a drought 
so early in the season, and if there was no drought, the cause 
universally assigned as the origin of the fight did not exist. 
Yet notwithstanding these statements, we think the possibility 
of a fight is not absolutely precluded, though rendered less 
probable. But if the frogs did not have a fight, what caused 
2 



10 

them to make such a terrible outcry ? Was it disease, as sug- 
gested by some, at the time ? It is hardly probable that an 
epidemic would have been so sudden in its attack, have pro- 
duced so great mortality, and have been so soon over. 

Was there a shock of an earthquake, or some convulsion of 
nature in connection with the affair, that proved such a catas- 
trophe to the frogs ? The jarring thunder-like sounds would 
indicate that it is possible, yet there are no facts or traditions 
besides, to warrant such a supposition. Were there thunder- 
ings and lightnings, and were the frogs somehow affected and 
killed by electricity ? There is nothing to justify such a con- 
clusion. What was it then that killed the frogs ? The two 
facts undisputed are, that there was an unusual outcry and a 
large quantity of dead frogs found about the pond next morn- 
ing, which, taken together, we think plainly indicates that the 
noise had some connection with the death of the frogs. It has 
been suggested that when frogs make the most noise, they are 
in the highest state of enjoyment, and if the traditions are 
correct, the sounds made were of the same kind as heard from 
frogs on ordinary occasions. This would show that they were 
having a high time, were very happy, and therefore vociferous ; 
perhaps striving with all their might to excel each other. But 
in this case, what killed the frogs ? Is it possible that it was 
the excitement or over-exertion on that memorable night ? 

We may tax the imagination to any extent, yet if the frogs 
did not fight among themselves, we are left entirely to conjec- 
ture as to the cause of the disturbance. But, will frogs fight? 
We believe they are not naturally very belligerent, yet like other 
inoffensive creatures, they can and sometimes do fight, and it is 
also said that the big ones will destroy and eat up the little 
ones. Some facts with regard to the habits and peculiarities 
of frogs, would be interesting, and perhaps help solve the 
difficulty, but we can only allude to them. 

That a frog is not exactly a fighting animal, is shown from 
the fact that he is not possessed of any formidable means of 
offense or defense, and has no teeth, only a hard membranous 
gum, extending around the mouth. Their mode of combat 
is peculiar. They grapple each other with the fore paws, get 



11 

hold with their mouth, and when firmly fastened together, 
will kick with their hind feet at the most vital parts. Be- 
sides their capacity for making their usual sounds, they will, 
when injured, at times, utter a cry like that of a young child. 
We should suppose that in this mode of fighting they would 
make a good deal of fuss and noise, and it is a fact that while 
so engaged they do sometimes cry out or " squall" as a per- 
son remarked who had often observed them. In such a con- 
test the strongest would most likely prove the victor, and as 
the frog is rather tough-hided, death by such a process might 
not leave any visible wound on the victim. It has been sug- 
gested that had there been a battle, there would have been 
profound silence, but we have it on good authority, that frogs 
do at times, when engaged in fighting, make more or less 
noise ; yet whether they would, or did, make such a racket as 
was heard on this occasion, while having a general melee, is a 
question. But as frogs will fight, and do sometimes make a 
noise when engaged in combat — even if there was no lack of 
water in the pond, and no cause known for a conflict — can we 
not more rationally account for the outcry, and the dead frogs, 
by supposing that for some reason or other, there was a battle, 
than on any other hypothesis ? 

But we can devote no more space to the consideration of this 
" strange eventful history." It was certainly one of the most 
remarkable events that ever occurred in the country, the like 
of which was never known before or since. With the facts 
and speculations given above, and the accounts following, we 
leave our readers to form their own opinions of the occur- 
rence, and its cause. 

As many have a desire to preserve the old songs and tradi- 
tions relating to this affair, the writer has collected the 
following accounts and ballads, which are " Curiosities of 
Literature" in their way, and presents them as amusing 
relics of the olden time, in a style and form suitable for pre- 
servation. 



12 
THE WINDHAM FROGS. 

BY REV. SAMUEL PETERS. 

[The following marvelous "account of the Windham Frogs, is extracted from 
Dr. Samuel Peters' General History of Connecticut. 

Mr. Peters resided at one time in Hebron, Conn., previous to the Revolution- 
ary War, and living so near the scene described, and it being so soon after the 
event happened, it is rather strange that he should give such an exaggerated ac- 
count of the affair. 

But Dr. Peters was a decided Tory, and found it convenient to leave for Eng- 
land soon after the breaking out of the war. In 1781, he published in London, 
his famous History of Connecticut, in which he attempted to show up the people 
of the colony, with their manners, customs, laws, &c, in no very enviable light. 
This extract is a fair specimen of its correctness. No wonder President Dwight 
called it " a mass of folly and falsehood."] 

"Windham resembles Rumford and stands on the Winno- 
mantic River. Its meeting-house is elegant, and has a steeple, 
bell and clock. Its court-house is scarcely to be looked upon 
as an ornament. The township forms four parishes, and it is 
ten miles square. Strangers are very much terrified at the 
hideous noise made on summer evenings by the vast number 
of frogs in the brooks and ponds. There are about thirty 
different voices among them ; some of which resemble the 
bellowing of a bull. The "owls and whip-poor-wills complete the 
rough concert, which may be heard several miles. Persons 
accustomed to such serenaders are not disturbed by them at 
their proper stations ; but one night, in July, 1758, the frogs 
of an artifical pond, three miles square, and about five from 
Windham, finding the water dried up, left the place in a body, 
and marched, or rather hopped, towards Winnomantic River. 
They were under the necessity of taking the road and going 
through the town, which they entered about midnight. The 
bull-frogs were the leaders, and the pipers followed without 
number. They filled a road forty yards wide, for four miles in 
length, and were for several hours, in passing through the 
town, unusually clamorous. The inhabitants were equally 
perplexed and frightened ; some expected to find an army of 
French and Indians ; others feared an earthquake and disso- 
lution of nature. The consternation was universal. Old and 



13 

young, male and female, fled naked from their beds with more 
shriekings than those of the frogs. The event was fatal to 
several women. The men, after a flight of half a mile, in 
which they met with many broken shins, finding no enemies 
in pursuit of them, made a halt, and summoned resolution 
enough to venture back to their wives and children ; when 
they distinctly heard from the enemy's camp these words, 
Wight, Hilderken, Dier, Pete. This last they thought meant 
treaty ; and plucking up courage, they sent a triumvirate to 
capitulate with the supposed French and Indians. These 
three men approached in their shirts, and begged to speak 
with the general, but it being dark, and no answer given, they 
were sorely agitated for some time betwixt hope and fear ; at 
length, however, they discovered that the dreaded inimical 
army was an army of thirsty frogs going to the river for a little 
water. Such an incursion was neveij known before nor since ; 
and yet the people of Windham have been ridiculed for their 
timidity on this occasion. I verily believe an army under the 
Duke of Marlborough would, under like circumstances, have 
acted no better than they did." 

[The following ballad is from an old Providence Gazette, and appears to be 
founded on Peters' account of the affair:] 

THE FROGS OF WINDHAM, 

AN OLD COLONY TALE, FOUNDED ON FACT. — BY ARION. 

When these free States were colonies 

Unto the mother nation, 
And, in Connecticut, the good 

Old Blue Laws were in fashion, 

A circumstance which there occurred, 

(And much the mind surprises 
Upon reflection,) then gave rise 

To many strange surmises. 

You all have seen, as I presume, 

Or had a chance to see, 
Those strange amphibious quadrupeds, 

Call'd bull-frogs commonly. 



14 

Well, in Connecticut 'tis said, 

By those who make pretensions 
To truth, those creatures often grow 

To marvelous dimensions. 

One night in July, '58, 

They left their home behind 'em, 
Which was an oak and chestnut swamp, 

About five miles from Windham. 

The cause was this : — the summer's sun 

Had dried their pond away there 
So shallow, that to save their souls, 

The bull-frogs could not stay there. 

So in a regiment they hopp'd, 

With many a curious antic, 
Along the road which led unto 

The river Willimantic. 

Soon they in sight of Windham came, 

All in high perspiration, 
And held their course straight t'wards the same 

With loud vociferation. 

You know such kind of creatures are 

By nature quite voracious ; 
Thus they, impelled by hunger, were 

Remarkably loquacious. 

Up flew the windows, one and all, 

And then with ears erected, 
From every casement, gaping rows 

Of night-capped heads projected. 

The children cried, the women scream'd, 

" Lord have mercy on us ! 
The French have come to burn us out ! 

And now are close upon us." 



15 

A few upon the first alarm, 
Then arm'd themselves to go forth 

Against the foe, with guns and belts, 
Shot, powder-horns, and so forth. 

Soon all were running here and there, 

In mighty consternation ; 
Resolving of the town to make 

A quick evacuation. 

Away they went across the lots, 

Hats, caps, and wigs were scatter'd ; 

And heads were broke, and shoes were lost 
Shins bruis'd and noses batter'd. 

Thus having gain'd a mile or two, 

These men of steady habits, 
All snug behind an old stone wall 

Lay, like a nest of rabbits. 

And in this state, for half an hour, 

With jaws an inch asunder, 
They thought upon their goods at home, 

Exposed to lawless plunder. 

They thought upon their hapless wives, 
Their meeting-house and cattle ; 

And then resolv'd to sally forth 
And give the Frenchmen battle. 

Among the property which they 
Had brought with them to save it, 

Were found two trumpets and a drum, 
Just as good luck would have it. 

Fifteen or twenty Jews-harps then 
Were found in good condition, 

And all the longest winded men 
Were put in requisition. 



16 

Straightway, in long and loud alarm, 
Said instruments were clang-ed, 

And the good old one hundredth psalm, 
From nose and Jews-harp twang-ed. 

Such as were arm'd, in order ranged, 

The music in the center — 
Declar'd they would not run away 

But on the French would venture. 

There might have been among them all, 

Say twenty guns or over — 
How many pitchforks, scythes and flails, 

I never could discover. 

The rest agreed to close the rear, 

After some intercession, 
And altogether made a queer 

And curious procession. 

Some were persuaded that they saw 
The band of French marauders ; 

And not a few declared they heard 
The officers give orders. 

These words could be distinguish'd then, 
"Dyer," " Elderkin," and "Tete," 

And when they heard the last, they thought 
The French desired a treaty. 

So three good sober-minded men 

Were chosen straight to carry 
Terms to the French, as ministers 

Plenipotentiary. 

These, moving on, with conscious fear 

Did for a hearing call, 
And begged a moment's leave to speak 

With the French general. 



17 

The advancing foe an answer made, 

But (it was quite provoking,) 
Not one of them could understand 

The language it was spoke in. 

So there they stood in piteous plight, 

'Twas ludicrous to see ; 
Until the bull-frogs came in sight, 

Which sham'd them mightily. 

Then all went home, right glad to save 

Their property from pillage ; 
And all agreed to shame the men 

Who first alarm'd the village. 

Some were well pleas'd, and some were mad, 

Some turn'd it off in laughter ; 
And some would never speak a word 

About the thing thereafter. 

Some vow'd, if Satan came at last, 
They did not mean to flee him ; 

But if a frog they ever pass'd, 
Pretended not to see him. 



God save the State of Rhode Island 
And Providence Plantations ; 

May we have ever at command 
"Good clothing, pay, and rations." 

One good old rule, avoiding strife, 
I've follow' d since my youth — 

To always live an upright life, 
And tell the downright truth. 



18 



THE FROG BATTLE. 

ANONYMOUS. 

[The following account of this singular event is undoubtedly much nearer the 
truth than the narration of Peters. It was first published as an introduction to 
the ballad following. 

The latter is said to have been composed by Master Ebenezer Tilden, of Leba- 
non, father of the somewhat noted Col. Tilden, of the same town. The most 
ancient looking copy the writer can find, has the following long and rather quaint 
title : " A true relation of a strange battle between some Lawyers and Bull-Frogs, 
set forth in a new Song, written by a jolly farmer of New England." In the one 
following, which appeai-s to be a revised edition, seven new verses are added and 
three omitted from the old copy, supposed to be the original. We have been un- 
able to ascertain who wrote the subjoined account, or revised the ballad, or to find 
the date of their first publication, but it 'was many years ago. This song, under 
the titles of " Lawyers and Bull-Frogs," and " Bull-Frog Song," has been exten- 
sively published, and has been very popular. In fact, it has been considered the 
Bull-frog song. In it an attempt is made to hit off some of the magnates of 
the town, and we presume it was not very well relished by them on its first pub- 
lication. 

The cause assigned in it for the disturbance among the frogs, is of course, purely 
fanciful, and the description of the scenes occasioned by the alarm, probably con- 
tain more poetry ("or rather rhyme) than truth.] 

" On a dark, cloudy, dismal night in the month of July, 
A. D., 1758, the inhabitants of Windham, a small town in the 
eastern part of Connecticut, (family prayer having been duly 
and reverently performed around each altar,) had retired for 
rest, and for several hours, all were wrapt in profound repose — 
when suddenly, soon after midnight, the slumbers of the peace- 
ful inhabitants were disturbed by a most terrific noise in the 
sky, right over their heads, which, to many, seemed the yells 
and screeches of infuriated Indians, and others had no other 
way of accounting for the awful sounds, which still kept in- 
creasing, but by supposing that the clay of judgment had 
certainly come, and to their terrified imaginations, the awful 
uproar in the air seemed the immediate precursor of the clan- 
gor of the last trumpet. At intervals, many supposed they 
could distinguish the calling out of the particular names, as 
of Col. Dyer, Elderkin, two eminent lawyers, and this in- 
creased the general terror. It was told me by my reverend 



19 

grandmother, and I do not doubt the fact in. the least, as it has 
been confirmed by many other aged and venerable standbys 
of the town, both male and female, that the minister of the 
parish, surrounded by his trembling family, fell on his knees 
in an agony of prayer, and, (as expressed in the verses which 
follow,) in his garden among the bean-poles, (but this proba- 
bly is an embellishment of the poet,) and that by a simulta- 
neous movement, a great proportion of the inhabitants resorted 
to the same expedient for succor. But soon there was a rush 
from every house, the tumult in the air still increasing. Old 
and young, male and female, poured forth into the streets, 
" in purls natwralibus" entirely forgetful, in their hurry and 
consternation, of their nether habiliments, and with eyes up- 
turned, tried to pierce the almost palpable darkness. My ven- 
erable informant, who well recollects the event, says, that 
some daring spirits, concluding there was nothing supernatu- 
ral in the hubbub and uproar over head, but that rather they 
heard the yells of Indians commencing a midnight attack, 
loaded their guns and sallied forth to meet the invading foes. 
These valiant heroes, on ascending the hill that bounds the 
village on the east, perceived that the sounds came from that 
quarter, and not from the skies, as at first believed ; but their 
courage would not permit them to proceed to the daring ex- 
tremity of advancing eastward, until thy should discover the 
real cause of alarm and distress which pervaded the whole 
village. 

" Towards morning the sounds in the air seemed to die away, 
and the horror-stricken Windhamites, discovering that no In- 
dians made an attack, and that for that time they had escaped 
from being called to their account, (a general impression pre- 
vailed for a time among the females and the more timid of the 
male population, that the day of judgment was at hand,) re- 
tired to rest, bat not until the two robust Colonels had planted 
sentinels in every place where there was the least danger of an 
attack from the Indians. 

" In the morning, the whole cause of alarm, which produced 
such distressing apprehensions among the good people of the 
town, was apparent to all who took the trouble to go to a cer- 
tain mill-pond, situated about three-fourths of a mile eastward 



20 

of the village. This pond — hereafter in the annals of fame 
forever to be called the FROG POND — in consequence of a 
severe drought which had prevailed for many weeks, had be- 
come nearly dry, and the Bull-Frogs it was densely populated 
with, fought a pitched battle on the sides of the ditch which 
ran through it, for the possession and enjoyment of the fluid 
which remained. Long and obstinate was the contest main- 
tained. Several thousands of the warrior hosts were found 
dead on both sides of the ditch the next morning. It had been 
remarkably still for several hours before the battle commenced, 
but suddenly, as if by a pre-concerted agreement, every frog 
on one side of the ditch raised the war cry, Col. Dyer ! Col. 
Dyer ! and at the same instant, from the opposite side shouted 
the adversaries, Elderkin too ! Elderkin too ! 

" Owing to some peculiar state of the atmosphere, the awful 
noises and cries appeared to be directly over their heads ; 
and considering all the circumstances, it is not at all surpris- 
ing that many ludicrous, and even distressing events, should 
have occurred on that eventful night, among the affrighted 
inhabitants of the city of 'BULL-FROGS.' " 

BULL-FROG SONG, 

ORIGINALLY ENTITLED " LAWYERS AND BULL-FROGS." 

Good people all, both great and small, 

Of every occupation, 
I pray draw near and lend an ear 

To this our true relation. 

'Twas of a fright happened one night, 

Caused by the bull-frog nation, 
As strange an one as ever was known 

In all our generation. 

The frogs we hear, in bull-frog shire, 

Their chorister had buried ; 
The saddest loss, and greatest cross 

That ever they endured. 



21 



Thus being deprived, they soon contrived, 
Their friends to send to, greeting, 

Even to all, both great and small, 
To hold a general meeting. 

Subject and lord, with one accord, 
Now came with bowels yearning, 

For to supply, and qualify, 
And fit a frog for learning. 

For to supply immediately, 

The place of their deceased, 
There did they find one to their mind, 

Which soon their sorrow eased. 

This being done, the glorious sun, 
Being down and night advancing, 

With great delight they spent the night, 
In music and in dancing. 

And when they sung, the air it rung, 
And when they broke in laughter, 

It did surprise both learned and wise, 
As you shall find hereafter. 

A negro man, we understand, 
Awoke and heard the shouting, 

He ne'er went abroad, but awak'd his lord, 
Which filled their hearts with doubting. 

They then did rise, with great surprise, 

And raised the town or city, 
Although before unto the poor 

They ne'er would show pity. 

With one accord they went abroad, 

And stood awhile to wonder, 
The bull-frog shout appears no doubt 

To them like claps of thunder. 



22 

Which made them say, the judgment day, 

Without a doubt was coming ; 
For in the air, they did declare, 

Was very awful drumming. 

Those lawyers fees would give no case, 

Though well they're worth inditing ; 
To pray they kneel — alas ! they feel 

The worm of conscience biting. 

Being thus dismayed, one of them said, 

He would make restitution — 
He would restore one-half or more — 

This was his resolution. 

Another's heart was touched in part, 

But not pricked to the centre, 
Rather than pay one-half away, 

His soul, he said, he'd venture. 

Then they agreed to go with speed, 

And see what was the matter ; 
And as they say that by the way 

Repenting tears did scatter. 

They traveled still unto the hill, 

With those men they did rally, 
Then soon they found the doleful sound 

To come out of the valley. 

P 
Then down they went, with one consent, 

And found those frogs a singing, 
Raising their voice for to rejoice, 

This was the doleful ringing. 

Home those great men returned then, 

Now filled with wrath and malice, 
And mustered all, both great and small, 

From prison and from palace. 



23 

Swearing, I say, thus in array, 

To be revenged upon them ; 
Thinking it best, I do protest, 

To go and fall upon them. 

Then armed all, both great and small, 
With guns and swords and hatchets, 

The Indian king could never bring 
An army that could match it.f 

*01d Stoughton he ran and charged up his gun, 
And flourished his sword in the air, 

" But not being stout," he at last gave out, 
And fell on his knees to prayer. 

Then armed with fury, both judge and jury, 

Unto the Frog-Pond moved ; 
And as they say, a fatal day 

Unto the frogs it proved. 

* This terrible night the Parson did fright 

His people almost to despair, 
For poor Windham souls, among the bean-poles, 

He made a most wonderful prayer. 



t The following are the verses here omitted in this edition, but in the original 

Being I say, thus in array 

Upon the mountains early, 
These Lawyers they, did send away 

With them to hold a par-ley ! 

Who did demand, I understand, 

Of them what was the reason 
That they did cry, so hideously 

Saying it was high treason ! 

The bull-frogs brave, the reason gave 

And their own cause defended ! 
Telling their case, before their face, 

As it was apprehended. 



24 

* Lawyer Lucifer called up his crew, 

Dyer and Elderkin, you must come too. 
Old Col. Dyer you know well enough ; 
He had an old negro, his name was Cuff. 

*Now massa, says Cuff, I'm now glad enough, 

For what little comfort I have, 
I make it no doubt my time is just out, 

No longer shall I be a slave. 

* As for Larabie, so guilty was he, 

He durst not stir out of the house ; 
The poor guilty soul crept into his hole 
And there lay as still as a mouse. 

*As for Jemmy Flint, he began to repent, 
For a Bible he never had known, 

His life was so bad he'd give half he had 
To old Father Stoughton for one. 

Those armed men, they killed them, 
And scalped about two hundred ; 

Taking, I say, their lives away, 
And then their camp they plundered. 

Those lusty frogs, they fought like dogs, 

For which I do commend them ; 
But lost the day, for want, I say, 

Of weapons to defend them. 

Then with a shout they turned about, 
And said we've now been crafty, 

Our city's peace shall now increase, 
And we shall dwell in safety. 

Home those great men returned then, 

Unto the town with fury, 
And swore those frogs were saucy dogs, 

Before both judge and jury. 



25 

I had this story set before me 

Just as I have writ it, 
It being so new, so strange and true, 

I could not well omit it. 

Lawyers I say, now from this day, 

Be honest in your dealing, 
And never more increase your store, 

While you the poor are killing. 

For if you do, I'll have, you know, 
Conscience again will smite you, 

The bull-frog shout will ne'er give out, 
But rise again and fight you. 

*Now Lawyers, Parsons, Bull-frogs, all, 

I bid you each farewell; 
And unto you I loudly call 

A better tale to tell. 

* Not contained in the original song. 



26 



[The verses following were published in the " Boston Museum, " in 1851, and 
it is supposed were written by a native of Windham.] 

THE BULL-FROG FIGHT ; 

A BALLAD OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

A direful story must I tell, 

Should I at length relate 
What once a luckless town befell 

In " wooden nutmeg" state. 

'Twas in the days of old King George, 

The Dutchman, who did reign 
O'er England, and her colonies, 

And islands in the main. 

The Frenchmen, in those troublous times, 

With Indian tribes did strive 
To shoot, and scalp, and tomahawk, 
And burn our sires alive. 

And many a village was burned down, 

And many a shot and scar 
To our forefathers oft was given 

In the French and Indian war. 

But the direst fray in all that war 

To shake King George's crown, 
Was when the bull-fkogs marched by night 

Against old Windham town. 

These bull-frogs lived a mile away, 

Beyond the eastern hill, 
Within a rich and slimy pond 

That feeds an ancient mill. 



27 

And there, at night, their concerts loud 
Rolled up from stump and bog, 

As bass and treble swelled the throat 
Of bull and heifer frog. 

But " on a time " the greedy sun 
Had drunk their lakelet dry ; 

The reckless mill had drained it out, 
With grinding corn and rye. 

And they but met an angry glare, 
When they reproached the sun ; 

Their bitter tears moved not a mill 
Nor broke its heart of stone. 

The drinking sun and mill had drained 

A domain wide and rich, 
And dissipation, not their own 

Brought the frogs to a narrow ditch. 

Nature a living owed to them — 

'Twas very plain — and yet 
They watched in vain for clouds to come, 

And liquidate the debt. 

They often gasped and prayed for rain, 

And she did oft refuse, 
And each dark eve conviction brought 

That she grudged them their dews. 

At length, one night, when human kind 

In sleep had settled down, 
They heard She tucket rolling on, 

Beyond old Windham town. 

The murmur of that rushing stream, 

Borne on the western wind, 
Filled them with frenzy, and they left 

Their native pond behind. 



28 

They sallied forth, a mighty host, 

They swarmed upon the hill 
Beneath whose front the village lay, 

In slumbers deep and still. 

And now Shetucket's gurgling roar 

Came freshly from the wood, 
And maddened them with strong desire 

To leap into the flood. 

They piped, and screamed, and bellowed forth, 

In accents loud and deep, 
Their frantic joy, and like the ghost 

Of Banquo, " murdered sleep." 

The villagers whose rest was slain ■ 

By this advancing crew, 
Awaked from horrid dreams, in fear 

That they'd be murdered too. 

For ne'er did angry foemen raise 

So loud and fierce a din — 
Nor Scotch, nor Dutch, nor mad Malay, 

Nor ancient Philistine. 

The frightful sounds were now like yells 

From painted savage grim, 
And now — more terrible than that — 

Like Cromwell's battle hymn. 

Then forth the people rushed, to hear 

Those noises rend the air ; 
And some resolved to meet the foe, 

Some, refuge sought in prayer. 

Some thought the judgment day at hand ; 

But their fears were banished quite, 
By a funny black, who 'clared 'twas strange 

That that day should come in the night. 



29 

And soon were gathered on the green, 

Old Windham's valiant sons, 
Some armed with pitchforks, rakes, or scythes, 

And some with rusty guns. 

And there, in hurried council met, 

They trembled and stood still, 
To listen to the cruel foe 

Who thundered from the hill. 

The fiendish jargon that so loud 

From throats discordant rung, 
They doubted not conveyed fierce threats 

In French or Indian tongue. 

But how their warmest blood was chilled, 

To hear the foe demand 
The lives of their best citizens — 

Much noted in the land. 

How quaked their very souls with dread, 

As, mid the grievous din, 
The foe, remorseless, bellowed forth 

The name of " Elderkin." 

Their very hearts within them died, 

When, as the host drew nigher, 
They heard resound, in guttural notes, 

The name of " Colonel Dyer ! " 

But fiery Mars inspired a few, 

Who stalwart were in frame, 
To meet the enemy in fight, 

His insolence to tame. 

They girded on their armor strong, 
They charged their guns with lead ; 

Their friends gave them the parting word, 
And nmirned o'er them as dead. 



30 

And then this gallant company 

Marched boldly up the hill, 
Resolved to quell the raging foe — 

His fevered blood to spill. 

They reached the spot from whence was heard 

The fearful hue and cry, 
And, though no murderous foe was seen, 

They let their powder fly. 

Ensconced behind a granite wall, 

They poured a leaden rain 
From blunderbuss and rusty gun, 

At random o'er the plain. 

But strange to tell, the stupid foe, 

Returned no answering fire ; 
They only bellowed louder still 

The name of Colonel Dyer ! 

And when another volley spoke, 

And cut through thick and thin, 
They bawled more loudly than before 

The name of Elderkin ! 

The courage of the Windham men 

Now rose exceeding high, 
And so they blazed away till dawn 

Lit up the eastern sky. 

The enemy dared not assail 

This valiant band at all, 
But screamed and groaned and shouted still, 

Behind the granite wall. 

"Pe-wwg-," "pe-Mttg-," "go-row," "go-row" 

" Chug," " chug," " peep," " peep " and " tee-tef 

" Cease firing, boys," the Captain said, 
" The dogs desire a treaty." 



31 

Our heroes rested on their arms, 

Till morning's light revealed, 
The bodies of the prostrate frogs 

Stretched out upon the field. 

But when they saw their waste of shot 

And fright had been in vain, 
Some made a solemn vow that they 

Would ne'er bear arms again. 

And they all returned with wiser heads 

To the heart of Windham town ; 
While the remnant of the frogs went home, 

And soon the rains came down. 

And at this day when evening shades 

Envelope brakes and bogs, 
The tenants of that pond rehearse 

The battle of the frogs. 

And to this day, each Windhamite 

Unto his little son 
Relates how on a summer's night, 

The Bull-Frog Fight was won. 

This tale is true, and years far hence 

It must be current still 
For bull-frogs two are pictured on 

Each current Windham bill.* 

* See bills of all denominations on the Windham (Conn.) Bank. 



WILLIMAtfTIC BOOKSTORE. j 

NEWS OFFICE, 1 

AND i 

PAPER-HANGING DEPOT,! 

AT THE 

ISTEJ-W STORE, 

[Three doors East of old stand in Franklin Building;) 

WILLIMAISTIC, CONN. 

JAMES WALDEN, (successor to W>. L. Weaver,) has 
removed to his new and commodious store, where he is pre- 
pared to do a much more extensive business than formerly. 

SCHOOL-BOOKS, 

School Stationery, and School Apparatus, including every 
article used in the school rooms of best quality. 

STATIONERY 

Of every variety, at wholesale and retail. 

NEW BOOKS 

Received as soon as published, with a good selection of .V 
cellaneous and Standard Works constantly on hand. 

PAPER HANGINGS, 

Borders, Shades, Window Curtains, &c, a large assortment at 
all seasons, both Foreign and American. 

NEWSPAPERS, 

Daily and Weekly, with the Magazines, furnished at subscrip- 
tion prices. 

N. B. Dealers, Teachers, Committees, &c., furnished at a 
liberal discount. 

DC/ 3 Orders promptly filled. 

J. W. is Agent for the Adams' Express Company, and for 
Dodge's J)yh House. 



'10